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​Build up from fats, oils, grease and solids (FOGS) can cause sewer backups​ and blockages on your property and in the public wastewater collection system. 

When fats, oils, greases and solids (e.g. food scraps) are poured down the drain, they cool and harden in the pipes, both inside your home and throughout the community. This build up makes it harder for wastewater to pass through pipes and can result in a sewer backup in your home. 

We monitor our wastewater collection pumphouses and pipes on a regular basis. When we notice a buildup of FOGS, we take proactive measures, like cleaning our equipment and sending educational materials to homes and businesses in the area. These materials help Edmontonians know what they should and shouldn’t pour down the drain or flush down the toilet.​

Note: Residents who are disposing of more than one litre of used cooking oil must take it to an Eco Station. City of Edmonton Ecostations​.​

​How to avoid clogged pipes

  • Collect oil and grease in a covered container and put it in the garbage.
  • Scrape excess grease from dishes into the trash. 
  • Remove oil and grease from kitchen utensils, equipment and food preparation areas with scrapers and paper towels.
  • Keep grease out of your dishwashing water. 
  • Place food scraps in your organics bin.
  • Don’t run hot water over dishes, pans, fryers and griddles to wash grease down the drain.
  • Only flush toilet paper​ down the toilet – tissues,​ floss and wipes go in the trash.

​By properly disposing of FOGS, you can help prevent buildups and​ blocked sewer lines, helping to protect the environment and saving you the hassle and expense of in-home cleanups and repairs.​


Who does this FOGS problem affect?

EPCOR responds to calls from homeowners with sewer troubles that are directly related to blockages resulting from FOGS buildup.

In addition, crews respond to approximately 125 mainline blockages each year. Historically, nearly ​half of these blockages are due to problems with FOGS.​

How do you know the trouble is caused by FOGS?

Grease is found on the cleaning equipment during routine cleaning of the sewer lines. Grease buildup is confirmed by running a small camera through the line to determine what is causing the blockage.​

How many kilometres of drainage pipes are there in Edmonton?
​Edmonton has more than 8,000 km of sewer pipe in total consisting of:
  • ​3,762 km of sanitary pipe that handles the wastewater from residences.
  • 3,432 km of storm pipe that handles the runoff from rain and snow melt.
  • 822 km of combined sewer pipe that handles both wastewater and stormwater.
How do you clean the drainage main pipes?

Pipes are cleared by special equipment that uses high pressure water to remove the grease from the walls of the pipe. A vacuum process is then used to remove the dislodged grease from the manhole.​

What is EPCOR doing to prevent blocked pipes?

We have a number of pipes that are on regular flushing routes to ensure that the grease buildup doesn’t cause any blockages in the system and impact customers. We flush almost 2,500 pipes every year on regular routes just to ensure that the buildup doesn’t impact anyone.

In total, we aim to have around 450 km of pipe proactively cleaned yearly and almost 50% of that is due to grease in the system. 

Can’t we just televise all the sewers and ensure they are maintained before problems occur?

There are approximately 3,600 km of pipe in the sanitary and combined (sewers used for both sanitary and stormwater) sewer systems. Each year, about 150 kilometres can be televised. Based on these numbers, it would take 20 years to televise the entire city. Therefore, it is not possible to monitor all the sewer lines for grease buildup on a regular basis.​

Can I just dump it into the toilet instead?

No. Wastewater from every toilet, shower, kitchen sink, dishwasher, or bathtub is connected to a single sewer pipe from your residence that goes into the public wastewater collection system. ​

Does cooking oil get treated differently?

​Used cooking oil should be placed in a capped, plastic jug, labeled, and set out for garbage collection. Amounts larger than 1 litre should go to an Eco Station for disposal.

Cooking oil does not solidify, so there is a chance the container can break and oil can spill during garbage collection, causing an environmental hazard.​

If I live in an apartment or condo, do I still need to worry about this?

Yes. Everyone should dispose cooking fats, oils, and grease properly, rather than pouring them down the drain. ​